There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Once again we begin a new Church year of life and faith. Throughout the Sundays of this year we will pray through the lens of the Gospel of Luke. It is Luke who will help us focus this Advent season on those special virtues of vigilance, patience, and hope. We do so against the backdrop of both international and national political challenge and economic strain.
While the prophet Jeremiah’s listeners were waiting for fulfillment of God’s promises in an existing crisis, Luke’s and Paul’s hearers were waiting for an apocalyptic end time that seemed so long in coming. Luke’s warning then and now is not to let our hearts become anxious as we go after things that satisfy only for a short time. Be always watchful, he says, so as not to be taken by surprise. Sounds like good advice as we do our Christmas shopping! But Luke goes further with solid spiritual advice: Pray for strength! Stand tall and raise your heads. Be ready for the embrace of the one who is love.
Particularly this year, Advent invites us to welcome the steadfast love of Jesus who stands always at the door of our hearts. Advent invites us to leave our baggage at the door: we need to mend a quarrel, heal a hurt, begin anew with relationships that may have become frazzled and fractured. All of this takes hard work; it requires practical steps. Most of all it takes those Advent gestures of patience, faithfulness, and hope.
Throughout these days that will bring us to Christmas and the New Year, the Lord encourages us with these simple yet persistent words: “Be not!” Don’t be afraid to work for justice; don’t be afraid to go first in offering a hand of forgiveness; don’t be afraid to take the first steps in speaking words of peace.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
God, during Advent, may we remember the greatest gift ever given: your only Son, Jesus Christ. Fill our hearts with wonder and gratitude as we think of our Savior putting aside his heavenly glory and coming among us. As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, grow our understanding about the impact of our Lord’s birth. By Christmas day, may our hearts overflow with thanksgiving as we embrace the greatest of all promises: God with us!
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!